Category Archives: Television Reviews

IR TV Review: MARVEL’S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. – EPISODE 2 (“Know Your Onions”) [ABC-S7]

While the reveal of 1931 in the premiere of he 7th and final season of “Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.” provided an interesting backdrop, the reality of “Know Your Onions” as Episode 2 teases reveals some of the texture without really allowing any more specific movement to progress. The existential perception of not-Coulson is an interesting one but is not quite built upon here. Without giving any spoilers, the question becomes what is the greater good and who knows what that looks like. There is also the structure of power which is both not in question but also debated. In creating a different timeline, what could happen? Not that that could or couldn’t happen. Could it reset what happened all over Phase 3. or as Dr. Strange put it, was there only one way that it could end where it didn’t create cataclysm. Many rumors point to the fact that this season will help wrap up Phase III while others point to Phase IV reveals. Of course these episodes were shot pre-pandemic so it will be interesting to see how it builds to where it might go. While the 2nd episode ends in a certain place, it might be the exact place it was headed all along though some hidden perspectives and mechanisms can definitely change.


By Tim Wassberg

IR TV Review: DIRTY JOHN – THE BETTY BRODERICK STORY – EPISODE 1 & 2 – SEASON PREMIERE (“No Fault” & “The Turtle And The Alligator”) [USA]

The two part premiere of “Dear John: The Betty Broderick Story” is an interesting progression, specifically in context of the actors and how the story plays out. This story obviously could have the texture of a movie of the week and might have played in that stake 20 years ago. But with broadcast standards changed up and production also high, the inclusion of certain talent like Amanda Peet and Christian Slater as the would-be doomed couple in an interesting blend because of the move against expectation. Amanda Peet is in many ways remembered for comedy in “Whole Nine Yards” whereas Christian dates all the way back to “Heathers”. The reviewer is using these two films as reference points in specific because they show mindset in a relationship. This story follows Betty Broderick’s path to what becomes an untenable situation. While there is an understanding of her motives, the breakdown is an interesting psychological push, a maelstrom of expectation, child raising, sacrifice, upbringing and consequence. The first episode “No Fault” shows the unraveling of a marriage that was based on Betty giving up her thoughts and dreams to be traditional and help Dan (Slater) achieve his goals within the aspect of taking care of them forever.

What is interestingly done is the use of flashbacks including a younger actor that totally gets down the Slater playing Nicholson aspect while making it part of the character. The show runner explained in her message before the screener that when she remembered this real life event happening it was a bit of urban lore but as she grew up and had kids of her own and reached the age of Betty Broderick, the pain of the woman and how she kept trying to see the light or best until she couldn’t rang true. The series does come with a disclaimer that the events hve been dramatized and fictionalized to a point. Slater has an interesting line to play in a character that does give his soon-to-be ex wife chances to move on but also doesn’t give her the tools that she needs. In this specific situation, he has the chips stacked in his corner but won’t provide. It is a choking mechanism. Peet, for her part, has ever played a character like this before. It might also have to do with her becoming a mother in recent years as well to giveĀ  different perspective.

It is hard at times to understand why Broderick reacts but the key is to take it in the context of the 80s: the exit strategies were not in place (not that they fully are today) but the coldness of Betty’s parents to her plight and what they saw as traditional in an interesting conundrum. Now as the second episode (“The Turtle & The Alligator”) integrates, Peet’s Betty tries to connect back to Dan but then dives into an overt emotional space. She tries to put up a strong front but cannot take the ego destroyer of the tactics that her husband is using. She can’t understand how he can be so cold and still laugh at her jokes. The most painful and some of the best acting from Peet is when you see her smiling and yet the pain. I have talked to Peet many years ago and actually remember an interview when Matthew Perry snuck into her interview for “The Whole Nine Yards” while he was doing interviews for “Servicing Sara” with Liz Hurley upstairs. They enjoyed each other’s company and made jokes but again, like Betty and Dan, it is a moment in time.

Not that that is a reflection of the show. It just shows that every human has their own path to follow but one has to see the whole picture. With human beings are never like that in the moment. It is always upon refection when it is over. That is the structure that plays here. Either people don’t believe Betty could do something like this or maybe she didn’t know that she could do it. Or she is hiding. Or she had a break. It is a dynamic idea which in today’s TV landscape can be done. What this “Dear John” does in an interesting way is do it in a more sanitized way, showing the psychological breaks without being overtly graphic or crass per se. It is a human drama and is shown that way.


By Tim Wassberg

IR TV Review: THE GENETIC DETECTIVE – EPISODE 2 (“Hunt For The Runaway Killer”) [ABC]

The aspect of “The Genetic Detective” is fitting puzzle pieces but knowing how to decode. In Episode 2, “Hunt For The Runaway Killer”, the aspect of a cold case reflects through many aspects of a serial offender. A mother and her daughter were murdered in farmland Missouri while the father and son were working on their farm. The son returns to find them both in different positions shot in the head. His sister had been tied up with extension cord. His mother face down on the floor. While DNA was found (the murders took place in 1998), DNA tracking was nowhere near where it needed to be. The DNA broke down. About 10 years later they did connect it to another crime far away in South Carolina but not enough to make a match. The case sat cold for many years. CeCe Moore, known as The Genetic Detective was brought in when a organization/lab out of Memphis decided to connect cold cases with some backlogged rape kits which had been sitting in storage waiting for analysis but needing funding. The thinking being that certain markers could connect this offender/killer who apparently kept moving around with other criminal investigations. The breakdown of every case is interesting but it is seeing where the puzzle diverges. The eye opening aspect was when CeCe comes upon in the back trace which plateaus in the 1880s, she finds double cousins where two brothers of one family married two sisters of another. So the DNA pool was doubled which created a past parallel structure.

There was also a police sketch that was vague from a person the assailant attacked not long after the original Missouri murders. It was through news articles at that point that CeCe was able to verify through a photo of the offender connecting him with his daughter. What is interesting in the reveal is that CeCe admits that the killer moved around a lot but his life path was complicated. He eventually committed suicide when he was cornered in a hotel in Missouri (it is not clear if he was alone or not). The body is exhumed and the DNA matched. The disappointing aspect is not knowing motivation,if any, behind the Missouri murders or some of the ones after it since the MOs seemed to change. CeCe visits the daughter, not to confront but just to talk (likely primarily just to create closure). The lady worries and reflects about genetic predisposition whereas when CeCe visits the son whose mother and sister were killed, he is living in the same farm house. He says that even though the mystery was solved, the thoughts and trauma will never go away. This kind of balanced approach brings a texture to the show that CeCe relates in saying that data only means so much. It is important to see that consequence and reflection on the ground


By Tim Wassberg

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